The third week of the Overwatch League’s inaugural season was the most exciting so far. With six of the series requiring the full five games to determine the winner fans were treated to at least one highly contested match-up each and every night. Making the week even better for many fans were the results of some of these incredibly close series, including two where all Korean rosters were taken down by predominantly western ones.
The opening night of the week concluded with a highly anticipated showdown between the Valiant and Gladiators, the two teams representing Los Angeles in the Overwatch League. The Valiant were considered to be the stronger of the two teams entering the night but were quickly dispatched on the first two maps putting them down 2-0. Things turned around in the latter half of the series however, securing victories on both of the control maps and Junkertown in game 4 meant they were able to walk away with the 3-2 reverse sweep. While the start of the series was certainly shaky for the Valiant, being able to remain poised and play so well under pressure in what was such a highly anticipated series speaks to their confidence and composure as a team. The Gladiators have held their own so far but the Valiant show strong signs of being one of the best.
At the end of the second week of action all three all Korean rosters were undefeated however all of them suffered a defeat this week. Boston kicked off Thursday night’s games with a remarkable five game series against London, where they were able to emerge victorious. Being defeated in their first game on Numbani would not deter the Boston squad few gave a legitimate chance of emerging victorious. Rallying in games two and three Boston put London into a do or die situation and while London was able to force a fifth and final game, Boston demonstrated they were the superior control team, winning game five 2-0.
Philadelphia were on stage next that night and perhaps drawing some inspiration from Boston, pulled off an incredible upset of their own in another five game set against New York. Much like Boston, Philadelphia was beaten in the series opener on Numbani. The rest of the series would be back and forth with teams trading victories until the fifth and final match. Despite New York winning the previous control map in the series, Philadelphia was able to win 2-0 on Lijiang Tower in the deciding match. With both Korean rosters being defeated 2-0 in the deciding match on Lijiang, it may suggest these teams have not felt the need to practice the map assuming their series would not be going the full five games against most teams – if that is indeed the case they paid the price for that error this week.
Seoul was the Korean roster that came in atop the power rankings entering this week but their performance against New York has changed that. In another back and forth five game series, New York was able to strike first blood on Eichenwalde and never looked back. Exchanging matches until the deciding game five on Lijiang where New York had lost just the previous evening. This time they made no mistake and quickly defeated Seoul 2-0. While simply defeating Seoul could be enough evidence to justify New York being the better team on its own, New York did not look as clean and impressive as they normally do, suggesting their ceiling is even higher. New York’s victory means no team now has an undefeated record, and with 6 teams all being within one victory of first place, the top of the standings are still very crowded headed into the final two weeks of Stage 1. A special mention must also be given to the Houston Outlaws – winning both series 4-0 this week gives them 16 straight map victories and makes them a team to watch down the stretch.
The teams at the bottom of the standings continued to see things work against them. San Francisco, Shanghai and Florida all exited the third week without earning a victory. Shanghai has yet to earn one this season and with a very difficult two weeks ahead could realistically emerge 0-10 from the first Stage of play. Florida has a victory and San Francisco has two but their performances this week were less than inspiring and making it difficult to see how things could change in two short weeks. The Dallas Fuel managed to pick up their first victory of the season however it was against the San Francisco Shock making it difficult to give too much credit. The team has continued to struggle despite its all star roster, succumbing to Boston in a close five game series this week. All four of these teams are prime candidates to make moves this roster transfer period, which began January 22nd, however players signed will not be eligible to play until February 21st which marks the start of Stage 2.
With only two weeks remaining in Stage 1 each and every match counts. Ones to particularly look out for this week include the opening match of the week on Wednesday January 31st at 7PM EST between the Los Angeles Valiant and the Philadelphia Fusion, Thursday’s closing match at 9PM EST between London Spitfires and Seoul Dynasty and Friday’s final series between the Los Angeles Gladiators and Boston Uprising at 11PM EST. You can watch the games on the official Overwatch League Twitch feed and check out the full schedule, standings and more on the official Overwatch League Website.